Erik Heerlein’s Weblog

Honey – it’s good for more than pancakes and toast.

Posted in Personal Health Status by erikheerlein on September 14, 2008

The leg is coming along nicely and the only problems have been two separate skin infections at the incision site. It may be true that by not shaving before the surgery, you spare the skin from irritation and possibly spreading bacteria, but the fact remains that you still have hair to deal with after the surgery. And for me, the hair was acting as a pathway for bacteria to travel along and get under the scab and into the incision.

The remedy was to clear out any hair near the incision and scab. I then treated the infections with repeated hot compresses of Epson salts to draw out as much toxins as I could and covered any open areas with Manuka honey.

Now, covering your leg in honey sounds like an old folk remedy up there with putting butter on a burn, but it actually has legitimate medicinal properties and it worked for me. Manuka honey is from bees who feed on the flowers of the Manuka bush, also known as the “Tea Tree”, to produce a honey that has anti-bacterial properties. Tea tree oil is commonly from the related Melaleuca tree native to Australia and is used as a topical antibiotic and antifungal for wounds that fail to close. It also goes well with toast.

I am also now able to put enough weight on the leg so that I can stand on both feet without the use of crutches. This lets me brush my teeth without holding onto the sink and I can also stand up in the shower which is a nice change of pace.

As far as range of motion, I have regained about 97.0524% of what I was before, give or take a percentage point. Which is nice since the docs say that most people find it hard to get back their mobility and if they don’t keep up the therapy, they’ll never get back what they had.

Hurricane Hanna didn’t do any damage here. In fact, it was downgraded to just a tropical depression by the time it made landfall. Other than that, it’s pretty quiet in the Palmetto state. Although we did get a new license plate for 2008.


My bones look good and moving on to phase two.

Posted in Personal Health Status by erikheerlein on August 28, 2008

I had a checkup with the doctor about my knee and the bad news is that I probably won’t be able to enter any cage fighting matches any time soon. And given my penchant for hocking loogies at my opponent, I guess it is just as well since spitting at your opponent is just one of the many fouls in Ultimate Fighting matches. Pounding on his skull until he goes unconscious is encouraged, even rewarded. But please, don’t get any of your saliva on the guy. You don’t want kids to get the wrong idea.


Isaac Brekken for The New York Times

Photo: Isaac Brekken for The New York Times


The good news is that I got an A+ on my checkup and a gold star on my chart. Well, not really, but it would have been funny if the doc pulled out a sheet of stickers and slapped one on there like in elementary school.

I first went to radiology for 2 x-rays where I happened to notice a big red switch on the wall labeled, “Mayday Switch” which was accompanied by a list of instructions to follow in case one found it necessary to flip it. I didn’t get to ask the technician exactly what kind of situation would qualify as a “Mayday” situation but I’m guessing it wouldn’t involve the Clearing House Prize Patrol or any form of cake.

So they gave me the little lead apron and my bones smiled for the x-ray camera and it all made for a pretty picture suitable for scrapbooking. In fact, they were so pretty that the doctor said that I can move on to phase two, which is to slowly start putting weight on the leg. Originally, I wasn’t supposed to be doing that for at least another 6 weeks but I’ve been a good little patient. He was also impressed with my range of motion but he didn’t have much to say about my birth mark that looks like Pete Rose stealing second base. I think the doc he was a Mets fan.

And for those of you playing the home game of, “To Shave Or Not To Shave!”, recent studies show that shaving actually increases the chance of infection. They may trim the hair with some clippers a bit, but even for surgeries on your hairy noggin, they don’t shave down to the skin anymore.

They are going to send me a copy of the x-rays, which I’ll post, along with that card for airport security certifying that I’m not smuggling a revolver in my knee cap. The doc said that the amount of metal in my leg is about equal to the wristwatch on my arm and when I’ve forgotten to put that watch in the bin, it has always set off the metal detectors. However, he said that he’s never filled out one of those cards before and he’s never even seen one, so I’m hoping it doesn’t turn out to be some kind of medical urban legend, like aspirin and the G-spot.

The doc was also out of the loop on whether or not I can ever get an MRI. Since an MRI machine is basically a 10-ton magnet, it can suck in anything metal from a floor polisher to a wheelchair. I shudder to think what it would do to my leg.


Images provided courtesy of

Images provided courtesy of

Images provided courtesy of

Images provided courtesy of

Scar, what scar?

Posted in Personal Health Status by erikheerlein on August 22, 2008

I thought I would give an update and some pics since people have been inquiring as to how things are going.

For those of you who were at the scene of the accident, you saw how I could have had a walk-on role as the “Unsuspecting Victim #4” in any horror movie, no special effects makeup required. Thankfully, I’ve healed up pretty well and there’s only a slight scar between the eyebrows and one on the back of my right hand.

The scar from the surgery on the leg is coming along and it’ll hopefully not be too noticeable but I do think it is going to affect my modeling career for cargo and bermuda shorts.

The section of skin on the right hand side covering the stainless steel plate has about half the sensitivity as it used to due to the nerves having been cut to pull the skin back. It is sort of like that area is under permanent Novocain and I may get full sensitivity back and I may not, we’ll have to see. 

You may have noticed that the hair on my leg is doing just fine and that’s because they didn’t shave my leg before the surgery, which I thought was odd. When I was in the trauma room in Portland, I overheard another patient tell his nurse that he wasn’t ready for surgery because they didn’t shave him. She responded with, “We don’t shave before surgery at this hospital.” and then talked a bit about bacteria.

Either she was making it up so she didn’t have to shave him or it’s the standard protocol nowadays. Post your thoughts in the comments and I’ll ask the surgeon about it when I see him next week.